3 Hamstring Exercises Every Athlete Should Be Doing

We show you the best 3 hamstring exercises to improve strength, speed and prevent injury.

In our latest video, Jin Su Jung, one of Australia’s top sprinters with a PB of 10.27, demonstrates our top 3 hamstring exercises to develop strength, speed and most importantly, prevent injury.

The most important thing to remember when prescribing hamstring exercises is that the exercise should mimic, as closely as possible, the actions, loads and positions that hamstrings go through, particularly at the point in the gait cycle that they tend to tear. This point is when the hamstring quickly moves from an eccentric (lengthening phase) to a concentric (shortening phase) which happens when the hip is flexed out in front and the knee moves from extension (straightening) to flexion (bending). If the hamstring is not strong enough to make the transition quickly, it will fail and “tear”.

The exercises

Do 3- 4 sets of 6-8 reps of each, twice a week. Try to NOT do it 24 hours PRIOR to a high intensity running/sprint session. Try to make the transitions from lengthening to shortening as quickly as possible and in a PAIN FREE manner.

Exercise no.1 – Nordic hamstring curl

Not my favourite as it is a double leg exercise and hamstring injuries are a single leg injury, however, it is the only single exercise thus far that has been proven, in 2 different studies, to reduce hamstring injury rates (Van der Horst et al 2015 & Peterson et al 2011).

Tips: Don’t “drop” at the end of the movement. If you are not strong enough to go all the way down then stop when you feel you are about to fail and pull back. Try to go a little lower each week.

Exercise no.2 – Single leg glute/ham raise on GHD machine

Tip: Keep the knee flexed (don’t let it straighten) the entire time and try to produce the movement through your hip/glute. MUST BE DONE AS A SINGLE LEG EXERCISE.

Exercise no.3 – Single leg skateboard hamstring curl/glute raise

Tip: Again do not let the knee straighten all the way. Skateboards are available at Kmart for about $30. Well worth it!

If you have had a hamstring tear then approach these exercises slowly. There are many other factors that can contribute to hamstring tears so if you do get recurrent hamstring tears or pain then please book yourself in to see an experienced musculoskeletal physiotherapist.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me at andrew@clinicalphysio.com.au.


Get strong arches!

Build strong feet with these 2 exercises.

  1. Sitting or standing, push toes down into the floor so your arch raises slightly. Keep you heel on the ground. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat x 5 each foot.
  2. Calf raises with band around ankles. Raise up onto your toes whilst pulling outwards into band. Do 3 sets of 20. To progress, try doing it on one leg at a time and/or make the band tighter.


Basic Stretches for Lower Back Pain

Do 10 repetitions of each, twice a day for basic mobility of the lumbar spine.

For further information of lower back pain and disc bulges, see our articles.

  1. Is your back pain coming from your hip? https://www.clinicalphysiostives.com.au/blogs/back-pain-on-one-side-it-could-be-coming-from-your-hip
  2. What exercises to do if you have a disc bulge. https://www.clinicalphysiostives.com.au/blogs/exercises-for-a-disc-bulge


Advanced Shoulder Stability Exercises

These are some higher-level shoulder stability exercises that can be performed late in the rehab process once sufficient strength has been developed.

The key is to control the movement the whole time as the kettlebell and the band will act to pull the shoulder out of position. Give them a try, they are harder than they look!